This March 16 – 19 we had 17 teens from across the state join us for the Future Leaders program! We also had seven adult volunteers, as well as two program facilitators from Beyond Recreation.  The 2024 Future Leaders program has expanded by half a day since last year to three and a half days, and this made a huge difference in the teens’ experience.  There was more time for fun, get-to-know-you activities, more fun team building like circus tricks, and then of course just more socializing and mealtimes to really bond and process their Leg Day experiences.

Girls on Scavenger HuntOn the second day, a Goosechase Scavenger Hunt near the Capitol allowed the teens to be silly and creative while achieving goals together. Developing comfort and confidence with each other enabled the teens to dive into telling their stories with little hesitation.  Even our shyer teens felt emboldened by the connection they already felt to their peers in the program.

Future Leaders Day 2 Mock Legislative Visits with StephanieSunday afternoon “Mock Legislative Visits” featured some HCC Board Members and former Future Leaders acting as legislators. The teens had a chance to “meet” with them and tell their stories.  Those adult volunteers left feeling very impressed with this year’s Future Leaders group.

Sunday evening’s Future Leaders Alumni Reception was a highlight for many of the teens, as they ate appetizing food and either sang, Future Leaders and Alumni at the Alumni Reception played ping pong, or shared video games together at Punch Bowl Social.  Adults who were formerly in the Program or former Mentors had the chance to meet again, and some even joined in the karaoke or video games with the teens.

 

HCC Legislative Day advocates, Future LeadersMonday’s Legislative Day gave our Future Leaders a chance to shine during their legislative meetings with their representatives and staff.  After the meetings were done, our teens had the special treat of visiting the floor of the Senate and Assembly with Senator Anthony Portantino, HCC’s Legislator of the Year in 2024.  Senator Portantino graciously also took several photos with our teens, as well.

Future Leaders Day 3 Dinner- Relaxing after AdvocatingAfter a very exhausting day, the Future Leaders relaxed with a Mexican food dinner and light games.  This time gave them a chance to bond after an exciting but intense day of advocacy.

 

Future Leaders at the Sacramento airport- Last day!The final morning of the Future Leaders Program, the teens discussed their Leg Day experiences and gave their feedback about the Program.  They seemed to take in every last second together, even while waiting for their ride or at the airport while awaiting their flights.

We wish those who are moving on from high school all the best in their next steps of life, and we hope to see the rest of them again next year!

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM FUTURE LEADERS 2024:

Group activities help form connections among Future Leaders and forge deeper bonds between them.

Future Leader Alumni event- KaraokeOne of the teens, when speaking about our Future Leaders Alumni Reception at Punch Bowl Social, said, “it was there in the karaoke room where I connected with my peers.”

And another teen mentioned that she especially liked “when we did the scavenger hunt,” since it was “nice to walk around the Capitol and bond with my group.”

By spending time doing activities together, taking risks, being silly and having fun, the teens connected and learned to trust one another.

A longer program allows teens more interaction and connection with other teens in the bleeding disorders community.

In 2024, HCC added a half a day to the program, with the teens leaving the morning after Legislative Day instead of after their last legislative meeting.  A longer program gives teens more downtime and mealtimes in which to chat and get to know one another. 

Future Leaders Day 3 Evening Activities-GroupOne Future Leader especially liked, “talking and interacting with other Future Leaders and getting to talk about bleeding disorders [and] life” since it was a way for them to “really develop special bonds.”

Another teen loved “hanging out with new people who I can relate to and who wanna make a difference.”

Meeting and getting to know other teens in the bleeding disorders community builds confidence.

A key part of Future Leaders is that these teens can relate to one another; they share similar experiences – either having a bleeding disorder themselves or having a sibling with one.  But finding community in their hometown isn’t always easy. That’s why Future Leaders is so key!

One Future Leader noted that the Program “was helpful to forming my relationship with the hemophilia community.”

Since some of these teens may not know people their age with a bleeding disorder, Future Leaders is a unique opportunity to connect with teens like themselves from other parts of the state.

Future Leaders Ladies during Leg Day Future Leader gentlemen at Leg DayThe community aspect of Future Leaders can also help shyer teens to grow in confidence in their storytelling and advocacy skills.

“As a first time Leader, I enjoyed […] being able to hear about others’ stories.”

Another teen said they enjoyed “being able to get to know the people in the program [because] it really helped me get comfortable enough to share my story with them and advocate.”

Once the teens in Future Leaders have gotten to connect, have fun together and trust one another, it is so much easier to take risks like telling their story and advocating for themselves and their families!

Of course, a key part of Future Leaders is the legislative process and how to make change through advocacy.  And the teens certainly haven’t forgotten that!

HCC Future Leader Mentor Mia Castañeda-Layman said, “Watching the kids thrive this weekend and learn so much together was irreplaceable.”

Future Leaders Leg Day outside capitol

Another long-time Future Leader stated- “I’ve been participating for four years, and it has given me the opportunity to see how the legislative process works.”

Seeing the legislative process over years allows Future Leaders to see the ups and downs and challenges to getting new legislation passed.  They learn details about key bills, such as our recent bills to protect patient copay assistance, for example, and every year the teens see more of the process in action.Marcoantonio & Renatto Medranda, David Larkins, et al leg meeting

One participant said, “I had fun going to the Capitol and meeting tons of higher ups and advocating for the AB 2180 bill to be passed.”

 

That was HCC’s co-sponsored bill this year, and this comment points to the most important reason WHY Future Leaders and teaching teens advocacy matters.  They are learning to advocate for CHANGE!

Which, not surprisingly, was another teen’s favorite part of the program:Langston & Eugene Brown, Ryan Faden leg meeting

“Everyone had an amazing time advocating for change.”

Teens who become Future Leaders feel changed as a result, and many come back year after year,

as you can see from another participant’s comment-

“I’ll be coming back next year.”

If you know a young person in high school, we hope you encourage them to apply to be a HCC Future Leader in 2025!

Senator Portantino awarded HCC Legislator of the Year group photo with Future Leaders